Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

We will be taking a break from our current Everyday Reading Project, 40 Days of John so that I can focus on my family and being thankful while my kids have a week long break from school.  I plan to keep reading while on break; but with three busy boys (4 if you include my husband), I won't have much time for writing!  We'll pick up in John 14 next Monday, 12/1.  I hope you'll come back and join me.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving

    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.

 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Friday, November 21, 2014

John 14:1-14

40 Days of John

Day 25: John 14:1-14

Jesus is mentally and spiritually preparing the disciples for what is to come in today's reading.  Jesus lets His close friends (and us) know that even though He is going to die, He will prepare the way for them to be with God and with Him in a new, living way.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in my name so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

This scripture is such an awesome promise for our lives on Earth.  Jesus is telling us that we will have His divine power at work in us and through us.  Jesus is saying that we will recognize Him in the world from the works we do as we believe in Him.

So long as our intention is to glorify God in our work, we can ask for Jesus to help us, and He promises us He will.  And not only that...Jesus says we can do even greater things than He has done.  This God power we have available to us is mind blowing to me.

So the question we have as we pray isn't ever "Will Jesus help me?"  The question to ponder in our prayers is always, "Is what I am doing about glorifying God?"  And if it is, man am I in business, Holy business!

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

I thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, so that I always have You with me and at work in the world doing amazing things.  Jesus sacrificed His life for me, and I am forever grateful.  Help me to always remember Him in all that I do.

Forgive me for the ways I struggle to glorify You in the things I do and in the things I say.  Open my heart to Your presence, even in the busyness and craziness of my days.  Keep me in tuned to Your will for my life.  Guide me to be the hands and feet of Christ working for Your glory.

Are the desires of my heart, Lord, in line with Your will for my life?

Right now, Lord, I want to be Your hands and feet as I work on ______________________.  I pray that all I do with ______________________ would be a reflection of Your light and glorify You. 

I also pray for ________________ today who needs Your guidance and your empowerment.

It's in the name of Jesus I pray,

May God bless you and keep you,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

John 13:18-38

40 Days of John

Day 24: John 13:18-38

"A new command I give you:
     Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

I think about love and how ambiguous it is today.  But as I read Jesus' words, it's clear that there's no room for ambiguity if we are following Him. 

"As I have loved you, so you must love..."   

So what does this love, the Jesus way, look like and feel like...

He has given us example after example of His love.  The example that is most recent in our reading is when Jesus washes the disciples' feet, remember.  I bring that whole love scene to mind, and I try to put love in words for my own understanding and for you who are reading...

  • Jesus loves by doing.  Jesus lives it.  He doesn't talk about love nearly as much as He shows it. 
  • Jesus gets dirty, messy, and I imagine often found Himself in some awkward situations (think about the realities of washing 12 grown men's feet).
  • Jesus just serves, always with God in mind.  He doesn't allow culture and societal norms to define how He serves and whom He serves.
  • Jesus leads in love by serving.  He doesn't wait for others to do what He can do Himself. 
  • Jesus nurtures the relationships of those closest to Him with His physical presence.
  • Jesus intentionally reaches people that are overlooked, lost, outcasts, and underserving based on their deeds and past. 

These are the kinds of things that come to mind as I think about love the Jesus way.  And His love is so high and wide and long and deep, and I know there's even more to it.  

What comes to mind for you?  Who is on your heart?  Who might Jesus be calling you to love?  How does He need you to love?  What is He nudging you to do as you reflect on the reading today?

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for the example of selfless and transforming love I have in Jesus.  Thank You for so loving me and making me new in Christ.

Forgive the selfishness in me that gets in the way of Your perfect love.  Forgive my mistakes.

I pray, Lord, that You will guide me to love more and more like Jesus.  

I have _________________ on my heart and mind today.  Your love is at the core of what ______________________ needs.  Use my hands and feet to help.  Use the hands and feet of those involved.  I pray that ____________________ would glorify You.

I love You, Lord, and I praise You.  Your works are wonderful!

In Jesus' name I pray,

In Christ's love,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

John 13:1-17

40 Days of John

Day 23: John 13:1-17

Jesus' is about to die in order to live in today's reading.  And what does Jesus do?  He washes his 12 disciples' feet, the ones whom He by one.  

This is so powerful because Jesus is leading by serving in love, and He calls us to do the same.

Jesus says,

"Do you understand what I have done for you?...You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

...Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."

Jesus willingly, lovingly washes away the dirtiest part of them, and He does the same for you and for me.  And as He does, He challenges us to follow His example.

I think about this scene.  It's so counter cultural, you know, even then.  Our Lord and Savior, God's Son, takes the time to serve those closest to Him in the most unexpected, hands-on, way.

Jesus could have simply served the disciples dinner and stopped there but He didn't.  I think that speaks volumes for the ways we are called to love without boundaries and expectations.

There's no greater love.  Jesus shows us that love isn't what we say.  Love is what we do with and for the ones we say we love.

How might Jesus be calling us to love today in the most unexpected ways?

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for sending Jesus to be my example of how believing in You changes the way I am called to serve and to love others.  Thank You for the promise of Your blessings when I follow Jesus' way.

Forgive me, Lord, because I know I do not always follow Your example of selfless love.  

Open my heart and empower me by Your Holy Spirit to love others in unexpected and transforming  ways, without self-imposed boundaries. Help me to connect with people and nurture relationships in my family, my neighborhood, my community, and in the world so that others might know the fullness of Your love through me.

I pray for ___________________ who needs to be filled and held in Your love today Lord.  Guide ____________________ by Your Holy Spirit to follow You, to trust You, to know the power, the freedom, and the hope that comes from being with You moment to moment.

You, Lord, are the light of the world, my Rock and my Redeemer.

In Jesus' name I pray,

Peace of Christ,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

John 12:37-50

40 Days of John

Day 22: John 12:37-50

Even though Jesus has performed many signs, many people still do not believe Him in today's reading.  And then at the same time, many do believe Jesus, but they keep quiet about their belief out of fear.  

The text says Jesus "cried out" as He said...

"Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.  The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.  I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness...I do not come to judge the world, but to save the world."

I imagine Jesus' emotion as I read His words.  Was He desperate in His effort to save people?  Was He frustrated?  Or was He just passionate, emphatic, and certain?

Believing in Jesus means we believe in the fullness of God.

Notice, the passages don't say Jesus came so that there would be no darkness at all, but so that whoever believes in Him should not stay in darkness.  There's always hope when we choose to believe in Jesus.  

How does believing in Jesus bring light to your life?  Does believing in Jesus change you?  Do you think Jesus and all of His God power changes who you are or the way you live?

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for all the ways You are at work in our lives.  Thank You for Jesus who comes not to judge but to save me.

Lord, forgive me for being too judgmental when it comes to seeing Jesus in others and in the world.  

I pray for Your light to shine bright in my life, Lord, and I pray You will help me shine that same light into the people and places I meet along Your way.  I pray my family, my home, my work, and my relationships will be a reflection of Your grace.

You are my Lord and Savior, Jesus.
I love You, and I thank You for all the ways You save me.

In Jesus' holy name I pray,


Peace of Christ,
*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Monday, November 17, 2014

John 12:1-36

40 Days of John

Day 21: John 12:1-36

In today's reading, the tension is rising among the Jewish religious leaders.  Word has spread that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  While many more have come to believe in Jesus, many also want Him dead.  And even with all of that tension happening, God's Word is coming true for the world to see as Mary anoints Jesus, and Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey for Passover.

God is proving through Jesus that He is who He says He is, that He keeps His Word and His promises.  

I don't know about you, but I can certainly relate to the disciples lack of understanding as things are happening with Jesus in the moment...

"At first his disciples did not understand all this.  Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him."

How many times have I seen God's divine plan after the fact, but struggled so much in the middle of whatever mess I am in?

Think about God's work in Your life.  Can you name a time in which God met You in the middle of a mess, but you didn't realize how He had His hands in things until much of it was said and done?  

That's part of God's promises for us as we read today.

Jesus reminds us that if we will serve Him, in the ways He came to serve, in the ways He has showed us, we will find Him and God will be glorified even in the middle of the mess.

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for drawing me closer to You as I read Your word.  Thank You for reminding me that Jesus died so that I am free to be with You now and for eternity.

Help me focus on You, Lord, and Your presence that is with me every single moment of every single day.  Show me how You need me to serve others for Your glory.

I pray for all those who need to realize Your promises in their lives, those who are in the middle of a mess, those who are struggling, those who are hurting, those who need understanding, those who need to draw close to You.  

You are my Savior, both now and forever.

In Jesus' name I pray,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Friday, November 14, 2014

John 11:38-57

40 Days of John

Day 20: John 11:38-57

Jesus brings Lazarus back to life in today's reading.  The relationships surrounding this miracle seem to be as awesome as the miracle itself.

Jesus, our Savior, is our friend now and forever.

And then, the other really fascinating thing is the relationship Jesus models for us with God, our Father.

Jesus doesn't do things the way Mary and Martha would expect.  From their perspective, Jesus is late.  Their brother has died from an illness Jesus could have healed.  They don't understand why things have happened the way they have.  

Look at how the miracle unfolds...

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
Notice Jesus takes the time to have a conversation with God in the middle of the mess, and the conversation begins with His THANKS.

Jesus takes the time to give thanks to God before the miracle.  That's a reflection of unwavering trust in God.

I think you and I are invited to walk in the same thankfulness with God.  Believing in Jesus means trusting God's goodness and love for us by giving thanks in all that we face, especially when the miracles don't happen as we'd hope or expect.  

Because the truth is, with Jesus in our lives, we can trust that miracles are going to happen, even though we don't always know for sure how and when they will unfold.

What happens when we work to approach all of our conversations (with God and with others) with thankful hearts?  I wonder what miracles we might see?

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for Jesus and the miracles He works in our lives.  Thank You for hearing me and knowing me even before my thoughts leave my mind.  

Forgive me for letting my own expectations get in the way of my trust in Your will and Your way for my life.  Help me to let go of all that holds me back from the freedom I have in Jesus.

I am especially thankful for the miracles You have worked with __________________________.

I pray for all those who are hoping for a miracle.  Come to them in real ways, Lord, and reveal Your glory.  I pray that they will know You and Your peace and comfort.

I love You, Lord, and I praise You!  You are my Rock and my Redeemer!

It's in the name of Jesus, I pray,

In Christ's love,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

John 11:1-37

40 Days of John

Day 19: John 11:1-37

Today's passage is about the time Jesus brings Lazarus back to life after he has been dead for several days.  It's one of Jesus' well-known miracles.

The not-so-obvious details and the relationships in this story stand out to me as being as significant to knowing and understanding Jesus as the miracle itself.

Lazarus is Jesus' friend, brother to Mary and Martha (also Jesus' friends).  And as I read this story, I can sense the love and emotion Jesus has for His friends.

Jesus, the Son of God with all of His divine power and knowledge, grieves with His friends in this situation even though He already knows there's a better, more hopeful ending to this story.

When Jesus first hears the news about Lazarus' terminal illness, He says,

"This sickness will not end in death.  No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it."

Jesus knows God and His goodness that is coming from the situation; yet, John tells us that "Jesus wept" and was "deeply moved in spirit and troubled" (John 11:33, 35).

The people watching see Jesus and His emotion for Lazarus.

Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him."

This story is our story, no matter what happens to us in this life.  Jesus loves us just like He loves Lazarus.  Jesus is our friend.  Because He died for us and lives, we can know and be close to Jesus just like Lazarus.  And when we are hurting and grieving, He is there with us weeping.  Jesus doesn't promise us a life without heartache, but He does promises us,

"I am the resurrection and the life.  The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die."

And Jesus asks us, 
"Do you believe this?"

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for the friend I have in Jesus.  

Help me to to know, remember, and to trust that You are the resurrection and the life.    

I pray for all those who are hurting, sick, or grieving.  Be with them, Lord, and fill them with Your love and comfort. Remind them of Your promises.  

I love You, Lord, and I praise You with all of my heart, with all of my soul, and with all of my strength.

In the name of Jesus I pray,

Grace and peace,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

John 10:22-42

40 Days of John

Day 18: John 10:22-42

Some are having a hard time believing in Jesus.  It's winter in today's passage around Hanukkah, and people want Jesus to plainly state that He is the Messiah, even though He's already said it in so many ways.  He's even shown His God power again and again.  Yet, people still struggle to wrap their brains around the fact that the  "mere man" right in front of them also claims to be God.  

And I love how Jesus responds to those who struggle to believe Him.  Jesus encourages people to focus on His works in order to know and understand who He is.  About His works, Jesus says,

"But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."

Really, no matter what the current state of our belief, this passage is so meaningful in our faith, always.  If we want to see God's power than we need to pay attention to His works.

And the thing is, Jesus died for us so that now He is alive and at work in us each and every day.  So in light of today's passage, Jesus is giving us an invitation of sorts to come to know Him by trusting in the works He does in us and through us.  Jesus wants our faith to be strengthened not just by what He says, but by what He does...

I am reminded of what Jesus says later in John...

"On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and You are in me, and I am in You."

So, let's think about that today and spend some time soaking in God's works because that's where we get to know and see Jesus.  Where do we see God's works today?  

Whether messy or neat, pretty or ugly, God promises us He will be there where we look for Him working for good.  

I want to focus on those works and be thankful that Jesus shows us who He is in real ways.

A prayer for today-

Dear Jesus,

Thank You for being in me, and for all Your wonderful works.

I thank you for the ways You are working in and through ________________, ________________, ____________________.

Forgive me for all the ways I focus too much on the world and not enough on Your works.  

Help me to concentrate on Your presence in all that I see and in all that I do.  I want to see the world through the lens of faith, believing and knowing Your goodness and Your powerful love.

I ask that You bless _______________________ (situation/event/circumstances) and pray that it will be a blessing to others for Your glory, Lord.

In Your holy name I pray,

Peace of Christ,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

John 10:1-21

40 Days of John

Day 17: John 10:1-21

Jesus defines Himself for us as the "good shepherd" with a very important "I am" statement.

Jesus tells us,

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full...

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me--just as the Father knows me and I know the Father and I lay down my life for the sheep."

Jesus is telling us who He is in our lives.  As His sheep, we are prone to wander. And yet, even more than we wander, we are made to know Him and His voice in our lives.  

I think this passage is about more than the promise of life eternal with Him, though.  Our salvation is both eternal and here and now.  Jesus is saying that He is with us here and for forever.  

So, what's the secret to living in this awesome promise of a life fully lived Jesus spells out for us?  How do we really live into this "full life" with Him each and every day?

I am figuring out, little by little, that accepting and knowing this fullness of life with Jesus starts with everyday thanks, realizing that God freely gives us every good thing that fills our lives.  And as we give Jesus thanks in all things big and small, hard or easy, we know Him, our Good Shepherd, more and more.  

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for Jesus who is alive in our lives each and every day so that we may have life to the full.

Forgive me for not living into this awesome promise with everyday thankfulness for everything and everyone that comes my way.  

Help me, Lord, to see the gifts of Your salvation in all things big and small, both ordinary and extraordinary, celebrations and struggles.  

I give You thanks today for _______________, ___________________, and _____________________.  

I also pray for ______________________.  Work in us grateful and generous hearts.

I want to glorify You, Lord.  Show me how You need me to do that this day.

In Jesus' name I pray,

In Christ's love,
*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Monday, November 10, 2014

John 9:22-41

40 Days of John

Day 16: John 9:22-41

Jesus has healed the blind man on the Sabbath, and the religious leaders of the day are missing the miracle because they're all bent out of shape about their religious logistics, technicalities, and maybe even their politics.

As I read this story, I am reminded that I don't want to miss one of God's miracles because my mind is focused on the unimportant details in front of me.

Jesus just is.  Jesus just does.  I cannot think of a single miracle in which Jesus emphasized logistical details in order to heal, to comfort, to redeem, and to love.

Jesus doesn't let the past or worries of the future interfere with His ministry right now.  

And I just know that I (we) are called to do the same, whatever our call may be.

The blind man's life was changed as He came to know Jesus.

"Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know.  One thing I do know.  I was blind but now I see!"

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for showing me what Your grace looks like in the world through Your Living Word.  Thank You for Jesus who comes to us in the moment wherever we are, loving us without religious logistics and technicalities.

Forgive me, Lord, because I know I sometimes focus way too much on the unimportant details in life.  Help me to keep Your love in mind, body, and Spirit above all else.  Lord, help me to just be with You in the moment.  I don't want to miss Your miracles that are right in front of me!

I pray for all those today who are overwhelmed and weighed down by the details of life.  I pray for my community, my nation, and the world that You would fill us with Your love, Lord, and empower us to follow Your example.

Lord, I believe, and I love You.

In Jesus' name I pray,

Grace and peace of Christ,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Friday, November 7, 2014

John 9:1-21

40 Days of John

Day 15: John 9:1-21

Jesus heals a man who has been blind since birth.

What does this story tell us about our relationship with Jesus and with each other?

This story reminds me that God, our Creator, makes us with His purpose in mind, and that purpose is always for good and for His glory.

Like the bling manx and the Pharisees, the physical, mental, and spiritual differences and limitations we have are part of God's creation.  And although our limitations and differences may look like weaknesses, as we believe and know Christ, they reveal God's strength, God's love, and God's goodness.

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in Him."

Notice, Jesus heals the blind man, not because of anything the blind man did or didn't do but simply because of who Jesus is, our Savior.  Jesus met the blind man where he was, begging on the streets.  Jesus does the same for us.  He shows up wherever we are in life.  That's grace.  

Here's the other interesting thing about this healing...Let's be honest.  Jesus heals the blind man.  He changes his life, in a really weird a way we'd never imagine.

Spit and dirt to make mud?  All over the guy's eyes?  And then the blind man goes to the pool to wash.  Gross but wow!

Who knows why Jesus healed in this way, but it's amazing to this day.

And so, we can't discount the crazy things that happen to us.  The ways God has made us, the struggles we face, the grossness we experience, the journeys we take, the mud that's thrown our way...

In faith, we find ourselves as part of God's beautiful and glorious works.

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for so wonderfully making me.  Thank You for so loving me that Jesus has given His life for me, so that I can know the fullness of Your love and experience Your grace forever.

Forgive me for all the ways I strive to earn grace instead of accepting it and appreciating it.  Forgive me for forgetting to freely see others through the lens of Your grace.

Lord, I pray that my life will forever be a reflection of Your good and amazing works, overflowing with the love of Christ.  Help me to see and appreciate Your ways, even when they do not make sense to me in the moment.  Help me to live by faith.

I pray for Your healing, Lord, for _____________________.

I love You, Lord, and I praise You!

In Jesus name I pray,

In Christ's love,

*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

John 8: 31-59

40 Days of John

Day 14: John 8:31-59

Jesus is still in the temple courts telling people who He is, God's son and our Savior.  

The discussion gets tense.  

Jesus says to those listening and questioning...

"If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

The truth will set us free too.

The truth from today's reading is that, like Jesus, we are God's sons and daughters.  We are God's children.  We belong to Him who created us in His image.  God is our Father.

And yet, people in today's reading are trying to understand Jesus based on what they know to be true and what makes sense to them about Abraham. 

They debate Jesus when they say,

"Are you greater than our father Abraham?  He died, and so did the prophets.  Who do you think you are?"

I can see this same tension still present in our lives today.  

God is our Father.  We are God's children.

This is what we need to hold on to with all that we are.  This is who we are no matter what the world tells us.

I cannot possibly rationalize Jesus because I am limited by my own knowledge...and everything about Jesus comes from God.  

Trying to figure Jesus out with my own logical, very human mind is always a mistake.  And even though I can't always put it into tangible words, I get to know and experience Jesus more and more as I turn to God for my understanding.

Like the people in the temple courts talking to Jesus, we hear Jesus and see Him in moments and all we need to do is believe Him.  That's faith.

So, as we think together about how this applies to our lives, we can let go of who the world says we are day to day and cling to who Jesus tells us we are, beloved children of God.

That's freedom!

A prayer for today-

Dear God,

Thank You for loving me.  Thank You for reminding me that I am forever Your child.  

Help me to remember who I am in Christ each and everyday.  

And as a child of God, help me to see others as Your children too.  Fill me with Your love, Your mercy, and Your grace as I interact with those You place in my life. 

Open my mind to the ways of thinking that keep me from really knowing who You have created me to be.  I don't want to be my own roadblock to Your freedom. 

I want to serve and glorify You, Lord.  Show me the ways You need me to shine Your light in the world. 

I pray for ________________ who needs to know the freedom that comes from following You.  Be with __________________ and help _______________ to know the power and comfort of Your unconditional love and unending grace.

You are the light of the world, and I love You with all that I am. 

In Jesus' name I pray,

Peace of Christ,
*This post is part of A Mind-Maker-Upper's Everyday Reading Project.  Click here to read more.